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10 Tips for Communicating With Your Teenager

Sometimes, I wish that raising kids come with a step-by-step book of instructions. That would make the task that parents face in raising teens a lot easier. Two of my kids are already in their teenage years. So, my husband and I have a big challenge ahead of us. I’ve seen some of our friends with teenage kids get their piece of headaches and heartaches. I hope we wouldn’t experience the same.

Communication plays a very important role in keeping misunderstandings within the family at bay. I really need some communication tips right now especially with my teen boys.

Do you have teenage boys? Do you feel that somehow communicating with them is a bit difficult? Sometimes, I just don’t understand what they are saying. Why is it that they often mumble? I often find myself saying “huh?” with a matching frown. Maybe it’s because they are in their puberty age, so changes in their voice get in the way.

So, I’m writing this post to remind myself to take things one day at a time and to share the tips I’ve read regarding bridging the gap with my teens. Taking the steps to improve parent-teen communication now is important not just for strengthening present familial relationships, but more so in the future.

Here are 10 tips that can help improve communication with your teen.

1. Watch your body language

Your body movement says a lot about how you feel even if you’re not saying anything. If you’re tired, you tend to slump. When angered, your jaw muscles tighten and your eyes narrow into slits.

Teenagers are good at interpreting body language. Yours will betray you when you are talking to them. They know when you are angry or when you are about to scold them. So, try to avoid sitting with your arms crossed, looking away from them or squirming in your seat. It might scare them and they won’t listen to what you say or won’t speak up what’s in their mind.

2. Give your undivided attention

When you don’t look at the person you are talking to, it says that you are either hiding something or you are not at all interested in what he or she has to say. I’m guilty of this sometimes.

A teenager will stop talking or sharing how they feel when they suspect that you are not “tuned in” to them. So take some time to sit comfortably and give your teen undivided attention with consistent eye contact. It lets them know that you care. I have to consciously do this.

3. Keep your emotions in check

It helps to remember the times when you were a teenager. Some of the things you said to your parents or did were actually intended to freak them out. It’s your way of getting your parent’s attention, right?

Well, teenagers will attempt to push your buttons if they can. So, don’t get upset easily. Sometimes, parents overreact even before understanding the whole situation. You need to understand that oftentimes the kids intentionally create the situations they know would make you mad.

So, do this — take a deep breath and ignore the taunt. Do the opposite of what they expect because really, they want you to see through their ploy and find out what is the real problem.

4. Ask them about their day

This technique works with spouses also. Even if your teen only grunts or says the obligatory, “It was okay,” ask anyway.

Your gesture will show them that you care. And it will go a long way to convince them that you love them and that you  are interested in what they do and how they feel.

5. Tell them how you really feel

If you don’t understand the situation they are talking about, then say so. Kids know when you are being insincere. Discuss the situation until you get an idea of where they are coming from. Your teen won’t mind explaining as long as they know you are listening.

This is not meant to contradict tip #3. Tip #3 is teaching parents to take things calmly. This tip is telling parents to be honest when dealing with their teens.

6. Respect their privacy

This one is tricky. I’m sure sometimes parents want to know what is the text message of a boy or girl friend, or perhaps what is your child doing online or on Facebook. Since you know your child better than anyone else, you can draw the line.

Teens value their time alone. While the policy in your home may be that there are no locks on the doors, always show respect by knocking before entering. If they don’t want to be pressed about a situation in school, wait until they are ready (if it’s not urgent) and then talk about it.

7. Keep praying

What I have learned as a Christian is to always pray for people and circumstances. This is especially important when we have concerns with our teens. When some parents are ready to give up on their teens, the best thing to do is to entrust them to God. Believe it or not, God is still in the business of making miracles.

Here are 3 more that I want to add from the WCSAP site to make this list of 10 parent-teen communication tips.

8. Turn off the TV

One of the reasons that parents and teens are not able to talk is because the TV is always turned on. Turn it off so you can talk and listen to one another.

9. Praise your teen

Many parents don’t give their teens enough praise. Most of the time, parents just notice the mistakes and the problems. That’s got to change.

10. Take turns talking

Some parents like to do all the talking. While the teens just let them talk as if they’re not bothered at all. I guess that’s why Madonna’s song “Papa don’t preach” was very popular to teens back then. Parents need to stop and listen also and let the kids do the talking.

Parenting a teenager takes a tough skin, a willingness to be vulnerable and lots of love and prayer.

We, as parents, will probably make mistakes — lots of mistakes. But whatever we do, we should not ever stop praying, loving and talking with our teens.


Melisa Sanchez said…
I need this tips someday for my zd boy. Yes its very challenging for us to communicate our kids specially sa generation nila ngayon kaylangan nating maging ma ingat. whew!
Michi said…
I think these tips are also applicable to kids. I’m also guilty of “undivided attention” but I’m trying to focus and listen always. Parents must listen to kids even you feel that it is nonsense because for them, it is very important issues so when they grow up, they will tell you everything.
Chin chin said…
I totally agree with you Michi. It does seem like nonsense but we’ve got to listen. If I don’t, they get mad sometimes.
Elizabeth O. said…
It’s really important to listen and focus to what your teen has to say. They have a lot of feelings bottled up and it’s vital that you show them that you’re there to listen.
Dominique Goh said…
Those are certainly great tips on communication. ESP PRayer.. it is very important.
I love that tip, “Keep Praying. ” This is so true. When you feel that the world has given up on you, and that you have exhausted all your efforts, prayer is the only way we do to move mountains. Faith, lots of it can help us get through the phase of raising teenagers.
Mommy Maye said…
By the time my son is a teenager already, I hope I am a stay at home mom na. I want to be there when he needs someone to talk to. Thank you for this guide. It will be useful for me soon.
Shelly said…
Awww, i like this post. I surely need this on my teenage girl. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Pamela G said…
Just like Michi said, these tips are applicable even for communicating kids. Our children look up to us, so we should treat them how we want to be treated, and eventually, they will do the same.
As the saying goes, give respect to get respect.
Nilyn Matugas said…
Oh, I need this. It’s not just for teens, it’s also for toddlers. Reminds me of my son so much, especially now that he’s getting older and is starting to show some attitude. It’s becoming more and more challenging everyday.
Mommy Anna said…
Communication is so important for a parent and children relationship, they must have an open communications. Thanks for sharing
JessDC said…
I think these tips also applies to my daughter who is six years old. I love the last part. Communication and lots of prayers are the key to a healthy relationship.
Melgie said…
All the tips mentioned above is very helpful. Although, I don’t have a teenagers yet, this is very helpful for when time comes. Yes, communication, undivided attentions and prayers are best thing for me. Thanks Sis:)
theresa said…
I hope that a lot of moms and dad and everyone will see this post and can really talk with their teenagers. One of the difficult situation in counseling HS students comes from poor communication at home.
Chin chin said…
It’s really sad that many of those considered problematic students really have communication problems with their parents. IF only…
Allan said…
Thanks for sharing these tips. I think this can be also applied to kids. I am guilty with the emotions. Often time, I lost my temper and scolded Matthew.
Marie said…
those are great tips and good luck! It is easier to have toddlers than teenagers hehe

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